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chief justice, in the dawning and opening of the light, finding, that the matter touched upon these great persons, very discreetly became suitor to the king to have greater persons than his own rank joined with him. Whereupon, your lordship, my Whereupon, your lordship, my lord high steward of England, to whom the king commonly resorteth in arduis, and my lord steward of the king's house, and my lord Zouch, were joined with him.
Neither wanted there this while practice to suppress testimony, to deface writings, to weaken the king's resolution, to slander the justice, and the like. Nay, when it came to the first solemn act of justice, which was the arraignment of Weston, he had his lesson to stand mute; which had arrested the wheel of justice. But this dumb devil, by the means of some discreet divines, and the potent charm of justice, together, was cast out. Neither did this poisonous adder stop his ear to those charms, but relented, and yielded to his trial.
Then follow the proceedings of justice against the other offenders, Turner, Helwisse, Franklin.
But all these being but the organs and instruments of this fact, the actors and not the authors, justice could not have been crowned without this last act against these great persons. Else Weston's censure or prediction might have been verified, when he said, he hoped the small flies should not be caught, and the great escape. Wherein the king being in great straits, between the defacing of his honour and of his creature, hath, according as he useth to do, chosen the better part, reserving always mercy to himself.
The time also of this justice hath had its true motions. The time until this lady's deliverance was due unto honour, christianity, and humanity, in respect of her great belly. The time since was due to another kind of deliverance too; which was, that some causes of estate, that were in the womb, might likewise be brought forth, not for matter of justice, but for reason of state. Likewise this last procrastination of days had the like weighty grounds and causes. And this is the true and brief representation of this extreme work of the king's justice.
Now for the evidence against this lady, I am sorry I must rip it up. I shall first show you the purveyance or provisions of the poisons; that they were seven in number brought to this lady, and by her billetted and laid up till they might be used; and this done with an oath or vow of secrecy, which is like the Egyptian darkness, a gross and palpable darkness, that may be felt.
Secondly, I shall show you the exhibiting and sorting of this same number or volley of poisons. White arsenic was fit for salt, because it is of like body and colour. The poison of great spiders, and of the venomous fly cantharides, was fit for pigs' sauce, or partridge sauce, because it resembled pepper. As for mercury-water and other poisons they might be fit for tarts, which is a kind of hotchpot, wherein no one colour is so proper and some of these were delivered by the hands of this lady, and some by her direction.
Thirdly, I shall prove and observe unto you the
cautions of these poisons; that they might not be too swift, lest the world should startle at it by the suddenness of the despatch: but they must abide long in the body, and work by degrees: and for this purpose there must be essays of them upon poor beasts, &c.
And lastly, I shall show you the rewards of this impoisonment, first demanded by Weston, and denied, because the deed was not done; but after the deed done and perpetrated, that Overbury was dead, then performed and paid to the value of 1801.
And so without farther aggravation of that, which in itself bears its own tragedy, I will conclude with the confessions of this lady herself, which is the strongest support of justice; and yet is the foot-stool of mercy. For as the Scripture says, mercy and truth have kissed each other;" there is no meeting or greeting of mercy, till there be a confession, or trial of truth. For these read,
Franklin, November 16,
The Countess's letter without date. The Countess's confession, January 8.
SIR FRANCIS BACON TO THE KING.*
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENT Majesty, ACCORDING to your Majesty's reference signified by Sir Roger Wilbraham, I have considered of the petition of Sir Gilbert Houghton, your Majesty's servant, for a licence of sole transportation of tallow, butter, and hides, &c. out of your realm of Ireland; and have had conference with the lord Chichester, late lord deputy of Ireland, and likewise with Sir John Davies, your Majesty's attorney there: And this is that which I find:
First, that hides and skins may not be meddled withal, being a staple commodity of the kingdom, wherein the towns are principally interested.
That for tallow, butter, beef, not understanding it of live cattle, and pipe-staves, for upon these things we fell, although they were not all contained in the petition, but in respect hides were more worth than all the rest, they were thought of by way of some supply; these commodities are such, as the kingdom may well spare, and in that respect fit to be transported; wherein nevertheless some consideration may be had of the profit, that shall be taken upon the licence. Neither do I find, that the farmers of the customs there, of which some of them were before me, did much stand upon it, but seemed rather to give way to it.
I find also, that at this time all these commodities are free to be transported by proclamation, so as no profit can be made of it, except there be first a restraint; which restraint I think fitter to be by *From the collections of the late Robert Stephens, Esq.
some prohibition in the letters patents, than by | by my lord Roos, who was the first mover of this any new proclamation; and the said letters patents to pass rather here, than there, as it was in the licence of wines granted to the lady Arbella; but then those letters patents to be enrolled in the chancery of Ireland, whereby exemplifications of them may be taken to be sent to the ports.
stone, to write a letter, which himself would deliver to the master of the horse, who doth me the honour to wish me very well: and I have obeyed his lordship, and beseech your honour, that you will be pleased to prevent, or to accompany, or second it with your commendation, lest otherwise the many
All which nevertheless I submit to your Majesty's words, that I have used, have but the virtue of a
single 0, or cypher. But indeed, if I had not been
Your Majesty's most humble bounden subject over-weighed by the authority of my lord Roos's and servant,
MR. TOBIE MATTHEW, TO SIR FRANCIS BACON, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR,
SUCH as know your honour, may congratulate with you the favour, which you have lately received from his Majesty, of being made a counsellor of state; but as for me, I must have leave to congratulate with the council-table, in being so happy as to have you for an assessor. I hope these are but beginnings, and that the marriage, which now I perceive that fortune is about to make with virtue, will be consummate in your person. I cannot dissemble, though I am ashamed to mention, the excessive honour, which you have vouchsafed to do unto my picture. But shame ought not to be so hateful as sin; and without sin I know not how to conceal the extreme obligation into which I am entered thereby, which is incomparably more than I can express, and no less than as much as I am able to conceive. And as the copy is more fortunate than the original, because it hath the honour to be under your eye; so the original being much more truly yours than the copy can be, aspires by having the happiness to see you, to put the picture out of countenance.
I understand by Sir George Petre,† who is arrived here at the Spa, and is so wise as to honour you extremely, though he have not the fortune to be known to your honour, that he had heard how my lord of Canterbury had been moved in my behalf; and that he gave way unto my return. This, if it be true, cannot have happened without some endeavour of your honour; and therefore, howsoever I have not been particularly advertised, that your honour had delivered my letter to his Grace; yet now methinks I do as good as know it, and dare adventure to present you with my humblest thanks for the favour. But the main point is, how his Majesty should be moved: wherein my friends are straining courtesy; and unless I have your honour for a master of the ceremonies, to take order, who shall begin, all the benefit, that I can reap by this negotiation, will be to have the reputation of little judgment in attempting that which I was not able to obtain; and that howsoever I have shot fair, I know not how to hit the mark. I have been directed
Sir Francis Bacon was sworn at Greenwich of the privy council, June 9, 1616.
+ Grandson of John, the first lord Petre, and son of William, second baron of that name.
commandment, I should rather have reserved the master of the horse's favour to some other use afterward. In conformity whereof, I have also written to his lordship; and perhaps he will thereupon forbear to deliver my letter to the master of the horse: whereas, I should be the less sorry, if your honour's self would not think it inconvenient to make the suit of my return to his Majesty; in which case I should, to my extreme contentment, have all my obligations to your honour only.
His Majesty's being now in progress will give some impediment to my suit, unless either it be my good fortune, that your honour do attend his person; or else that you will be pleased to command some one of the many servants your honour hath in court, to procure the expedition of my cause, wherein I can foresee no difficulty, when I consider the interest, which your honour alloweth me in your favour, and my innocent carriage abroad for so many years; whereunto all his Majesty's ministers, who have known me, I am sure, will give an attestation, according to the contents of my letter to his Grace of Canterbury.
If I durst, I would most humbly entreat your honour to be pleased, that some servant of yours may speedily advertise me, whether or no his Grace of Canterbury hath received my letter; what his answer was; and what I may hope in this my suit. I remember, that the last words, which I had the honour to hear from your mouth, were, that if I continued any time free both from disloyalty and priesthood, your honour would be pleased to make yourself the intercessor for my return. Any letter sent to Mr. Trumball for me will come safely and speedily to my hands.
The term doth now last with your honour all the year long; and therefore the sooner I make an end, the better service I shall do you. I presume to kiss your hands, and continue
Your honour's most entirely, and humbly ever at commandment,
TOBIE MATTHEW. Spa, this 16th of July, stylo novo, 1616.
POSTSC. It is no small penance that I am forced to apparel my mind in my man's hand, when it speaks to your honour. But God Almighty will have it so, through the shaking I have in my right hand; and I do little less than want the use of my fore finger.
Sir George Villiers, who was appointed to that office, Jan. 4, 1615-16.
TO SIR FRANCIS BACON, ATTORNEYGENERAL.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR HONOUR,
I PRESUMED to importune your honour with a letter of the 16th of this month, whereby I signified how I had written to the master of the horse, that he would be pleased to move his Majesty for my return into England; and how that I had done it upon the direction of my lord Roos, who offered to be the deliverer thereof. Withal I told your honour, that I expressed thereby an act rather of obedience than prudence, as not holding his lordship a fit man, whom, by presenting that letter, the king might peradventure discover to be my favourer in this business. In regard whereof I besought him, that, howsoever I had complied with his command in writing, yet he would forbear the delivery; and I gave him divers reasons for it. And both in contemplation of those reasons, as also of the hazard of miscarriage, that letters do run into between these parts and those, I have now thought fit to send your honour this enclosed, accompanied with a most humble entreaty, that you will be pleased to put it into the master of the horse's hands, with such a recommendation as you can give. Having read it, your honour may be pleased to seal it: and if his honour have received the former by other hands, this may serve in the nature of a duplicate or copy: if not, it may be the original. And indeed, though it should be but the copy, if it may be touched by your honour, it would have both greater grace and greater life, than the principal itself; and therefore, howsoever, I humbly pray, that this may be delivered.
TO SIR FRANCIS BACON, ATTORNEYGENERAL.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR,
I HAVE been made happy by your honour's noble and dear lines of the two and twentieth of July; and the joy that I took therein, was only kept from excess by the notice they gave me of some intentions and advices of your honour, which you have been pleased to impart to others of my friends, with a meaning, that they should acquaint me with them; whereof they have entirely failed. And therefore if still it should import me to understand what they were, I must be enforced to beg the knowledge of them from yourself. Your honour hath, by this short letter, delivered me otherwise from a great deal of laborious suspense. For, besides the great hope you give me of being so shortly able to do you reverence, I am come to know, that by the diligence of your favour towards me, my lord of Canterbury hath been drawn to give way, and the master of the horse hath been induced to move. That motion, I trust, will be granted howsoever; but I should be out of fear thereof, if when he moves the king, your honour would cast to be present; that if his Majesty should make any difficulty, some such reply, as is wont to come from you, in such cases, may have power to discharge it.
I have been told rather confidently than credibly, for in truth I am hardly drawn to believe it, that Sir Henry Goodere should under-hand, upon the reason of certain accounts, that run between him and me, wherein I might justly lose my right, if I had so little wit, as to trouble your honour's infinite business, by a particular relation thereof, oppose himself to my return; and perform ill offices in con
If my business should be remitted to the council table, which yet, I hope, will not be, I am most a stranger to my lord chancellor and my lord cham-formity of that unkind affection, which he is said to
berlain, of whom yet I trust, by means of your honour's good word in my behalf, that I shall receive no impediment.
The bearer, Mr. Becher,† can say what my carriage hath been in France under the eye of several ambassadors; which makes me the more glad to use him in the delivery of this letter to your honour: and if your honour may be pleased to command me any thing, he will convey it to my knowledge.
I hear, to my unspeakable joy of heart, how much power you have with the master of the horse; and how much immediate favour you have also with his most excellent Majesty so that I cannot but hope for all good success, when I consider withal the protection, whereinto you have been pleased to take me, the
Most humble and most obliged of your honour's
Spa, this last of July, stylo novo, 1616.
* William, earl of Pembroke.
bear me. But, as I said, I cannot absolutely believe it, though yet I could not so far despise the information, as not to acquaint your honour with what I heard. I offer it not as a ruled case, but only as a query, as I have also done to Mr. Secretary Lake, in this letter, which I humbly pray your honour may be given him, together with your best advice, how my business is to be carried in this conjuncture of his Majesty's drawing near to London, at which time I shall receive my sentence. I have learned from your honour to be confident, that it will be pronounced in my favour; but if the will of God should be otherwise, I shall yet frame for myself a good proportion of contentment; since, howsoever I was so unfortunate, as that I might not enjoy my country, yet withal, I was so happy, as that my return thither such a person as yourself vouchsafed to bear me. was desired and negotiated by the affection, which When his Majesty shall be moved, if he chance to make difficulty about my return, and offer to impose any condition, which, it is known, I cannot draw myself to digest; I desire it may be remembered, that my case is common with many of his subjects, who
was afterwards agent at that court; and at last made clerk of
+ William, afterwards knighted. He had been secretary to the council. Sir George Calvert, ambassador to the court of France, and
breathe in the air of their country, and that my case is not common with many, since I have lived so long abroad with disgrace at home; and yet have ever been free not only from suspicion of practice, but from the least dependence upon foreign princes. My king is wise; and I hope, that he hath this just mercy in store for me. God Almighty make and keep your honour ever happy, and keep me so in his favour, as I will be sure to continue
Your honour's ever most obliged and devoted
TOBIE MATTHEW. Antwerp, this first of Sept. stylo novo, 1616.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR,
I HAVE written to Sir John Digby; and I think he would do me all favour, if he were handsomely put upon it. My lady of Pembroke hath written, and that very earnestly, to my lord chamberlain in my behalf.
This letter goes by Mr. Robert Garret, to whom I am many ways beholden, for making me the best present, that ever I received, by delivering me your
honour's last letter.
SIR FRANCIS BACON TO THE KING. MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENT MAJESTY, BECAUSE I have ever found, that in business the consideration of persons, who are instrumenta animata, is no less weighty than of matters, I humbly pray your Majesty to peruse this enclosed paper, containing a diligence, which I have used in omnem erentum. If Towerson,† as a passionate man, have overcome himself in his opinion, so it is. But if his company make this good, then I am very glad to see in the case, wherein we now stand, there is this hope left, and your Majesty's honour preserved in the entier. God have your Majesty in his divine protection.
RICHARD MARTIN, ESQ. TO SIR FRANCIS
My attendance at court two days, in vain, considering the end of my journey, was no less unto me, seeing thereby I made the gain of the overture and assurance of your honour's affection. These comforts have given new life and strength to my hopes, which before began to faint. I know, what your honour promiseth, you will undertake; and what you undertake, you seldom fail to compass; for such proof of your prudence and industry your honour hath of late times given to the swaying world. There is, to my understanding, no great intricacy in my affair, in which I plainly descry the course to the shore I would land at; to which neither I nor any other can attain, without the direction of our great master-pilot, who will not stir much without the beloved mate sound the way. Both these none can so well set awork as yourself, who have not only their ear, but their affection, and that with good right as I hope, in time, to good and public purpose. It is fit likewise, that your honour know all my advantages. The present incumbent is tied to me by firm promise, which gives an impediment to the competitors, whereof one already, according to the heaviness of his name and nature, petit deorsum. And though I be a bad courtier, yet
I know the style of gratitude, and shall learn as I am instructed. Whatsoever your honour shall undertake for me, I will make good. Therefore I humbly and earnestly entreat your best endeavour, to assure to yourself and your master a servant, who both can and will, though as yet mistaken, advance his honour and service with advantage. Your love and wisdom is my last address; and on the real nobleness of your nature, whereof there is so good proof, stands my last hope. If I now find a stop, I will resolve it is fatum Carthaginis, and sit down in perpetual peace. In this business I desire all convenient silence; for though I can endure to be refused, yet it would trouble me to have my name blasted. If your honour return not, and you think
Your Majesty's most devoted, and most bounden it requisite, I will attend at court. Meantime, with servant, &c.
This is a secret to all men but my lord chancellor ; and we go on this day with the new company, without discouraging them at all.
September 18, 1616.
To the king, upon Towerson's propositions about the
Mary, widow of Henry, earl of Pembroke, who died January 19, 1601-2, daughter of Sir Henry Sidney, and sister of Sir Philip. She died September 25, 1621.
Whose brother, captain Gabriel Towerson, was one of the English merchants executed by the Dutch at Amboyna, in 1623.
Born about 1570, entered a commoner of Broad-Gate's hall, now Pembroke-College, Oxford, in 1585, whence he
all humble and hearty wishes for increase of all happiness, I kiss your honour's hands.
Your honour's humbly at command,
September 27, 1616.
To the right honourable Sir Francis Bacon, knight, his Majesty's Attorney-General, and one of his Majesty's most honourable privy council, my singular patron at court.
removed to the Middle Temple. In the parliament of 1601, he served for the borough of Barnstaple in Devon; and in the first parliament of king James I. he served for Cirencester in Gloucestershire; he was chosen recorder of London in September, 1618; but died in the last day of the following month. He was much esteemed by the men of learning and genius of that age.
TO THE KING.
IT MAY PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY,
THIS morning, according to your Majesty's command, we have had my lord chief justice of the king's bench before us, we being assisted by all our learned council, except serjeant Crew, who was then gone to attend your Majesty. It was delivered unto him, that your Majesty's pleasure was, that we should receive an account from him of the performance of a commandment of your Majesty laid upon him, which was, that he should enter into a view and retraction of such novelties, and errors, and offensive conceits, as were dispersed in his Reports; that he had had good time to do it; and we doubted not but he had used good endeavour in it, which we desired now in particular to receive from him.
THE LORD VISCOUNT VILLIERS TO SIR
I HAVE acquainted his Majesty with my lord chancellor's and your report, touching my lord Coke; as also, with your opinion therein; which his Majesty doth dislike for these three reasons: first, because, that by this course you propound, the process cannot have a beginning, till after his Majesty's return; which, how long it may last after, no man knoweth. He therefore thinketh it too long and uncertain a delay, to keep the bench so long void from a chief justice. Secondly, although his Majesty did use the council's advice in dealing with the chief justice upon his other misdemeanors; yet he would be both to lessen his prerogative, in making the council His speech was, that there were of his Reports judges, whether he should be turned out of his eleven books, that contained about five hundred place or no, if the case should so require. Thirdly, cases that heretofore in other Reports, as namely, for that my lord Coke hath sought means to kiss those of Mr. Plowden,+ which he reverenced much, his Majesty's hands, and withal to acquaint him there hath been found nevertheless errors, which with some things of great importance to his service; the wisdom of the time had discovered, and later he holdeth it not fit to admit him to his presence, judgments controlled; and enumerated to us four before these points be determined, because that cases in Plowden, which were erroneous: and there- would be a grant of his pardon before he had his upon delivered in to us the enclosed paper, wherein | trial. And if those things, wherewith he is to acyour Majesty may perceive, that my lord is a quaint his Majesty, be of such consequence, it would happy man, that there should be no more errors in be dangerous and prejudicial to his Majesty, to his five hundred cases, than in a few cases of Plow-delay him too long. Notwithstanding, if you shall den. Your Majesty may also perceive, that your Majesty's direction to my lord chancellor and myself, and the travail taken by us and Mr. Solicitor,‡ in following and performing your direction, was not altogether lost; for that of those three heads, which we principally respected, which were the rights and liberties of the church, your prerogative, and the jurisdiction of other your ccurts, my lord hath scarcely fallen upon any, except it be the prince's case, which also yet seemeth to stand but upon the grammatical, of French and Latin.
My lord did also give his promise, which your Majesty shall find in the end of his writing, thus far in a kind of common place or thesis, that it was sin for a man to go against his own conscience, though erroneous, except his conscience be first informed and satisfied.
The lord chancellor in the conclusion signified to my lord Coke your Majesty's commandment, that until report made, and your pleasure thereupon known, he shall forbear his sitting at Westminster, &c. not restraining nevertheless any other exercise of his place of chief justice in private.
Thus having performed, to the best of our understanding, your royal commandment, we rest ever Your Majesty's most faithful, and most bounden servants, &c.
Sir Edward Coke.
Edmund Plowden, born of an ancient family of that name at Plowden in Shropshire, who as he tells us himself in the preface to his Reports, in the twentieth year of his age, and the thirtieth of the reign of Henry VIII. anno 1539, began his study of the common law in the Middle Temple. Wood adds, Ath. Oxon. Vol. I. col. 219, that he spent three years in the study of arts, philosophy, and physic, at Cambridge, and four
advise of any other reasons to the contrary, his Majesty would have you, with all the speed you can, to send them unto him; and in the mean time to keep back his Majesty's letter, which is herein sent unto you, from my lord Coke's knowledge, until you receive his Majesty's further direction for your proceeding in his business.
And so I rest, your ever assured friend at command,
GEORGE VILLIERS. Theobald's, the 3d of October, 1616. To the right honourable Sir Francis Bacon, knight, his Majesty's Attorney-General, and of his most honourable privy council.